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Prawns sold in Australian supermarkets must be labelled with the country of origin. About half of the prawns we buy are from overseas. Flickr: avlxyz

Slip a more sustainable prawn on your barbie this Christmas

Australians are set to munch through half a billion prawns this Christmas. But where do all those prawns come from? And can we feel good as we throw another one on the barbie? About half of the prawns…
Eroded beaches in Surfers Paradise on Queensland’s Gold Coast, May 2013. John Reid, Environment Studio, ANU School of Art

Scrapping sea level protection puts Australian homes at risk

As the science on the coastal impacts of climate change gets stronger, the protections for Australia’s coastal communities are getting weaker. If that continues, everyone will pay. Along the eastern seaboard…
New research from the Centre for Broadband Innovation explores what’s required to get more businesses online. Lukas Coch/AAP

Broadband and business: if you build it will they come?

As the debate about the type of broadband infrastructure Australia is investing in rolls on, the really big question concerns the extent to which Australians will benefit from this investment. This is…
Where doe outbreaks of avian influenza come from? Flickr/cskk

Avian influenza – why it’s not going away

While Hong Kong has just reported its first case of the deadly H7N9 bird flu indicating that the virus may be spreading across China, Australia is reporting an egg shortage over Christmas as a result of…
Cooling oceans off the coast of Indonesia can create bushfire weather in Australia. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Indian Ocean linked to bushfires and drought in Australia

In a study released today in Nature Geoscience, we show that extreme weather events in Australia such as drought and bushfire are linked to temperature changes in the Indian Ocean. Much like El Niño in…
The role pollution aerosols play in climate change is incredibly complicated. CzechR/Flickr

Masking and unmasking of global warming by aerosols

Climate scientists have established a convincing case for the link between increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases and observed warming of the Earth since the 19th century. The Fifth Assessment Report…
Science fiction to non-fiction: the next generation of robots promises to be ultra intelligent. andreybl

Self-driving cars and autonomous robots: where to now?

There isn’t a radio-control handset in sight as a nimble robot briskly weaves itself in and out of the confined tunnels of an underground mine. Powered by ultra-intelligent sensors, the robot intuitively…
If you like good food, clean water, and protection from disease, you’re probably a fan of biosecurity. AAP Julian Smith

Explainer: why Australia needs biosecurity

When the Department of Agriculture called a halt to imports of pop star Katy Perry’s latest album this month, they weren’t making a musical judgement. They were protecting Australia’s biosecurity. Biosecurity…
How does the power get from there to here? alkhodarev/Flickr

Explainer: how does the electricity grid work?

Where would we be without electricity? Assuming that you own a fridge, there won’t be many points in your life when you aren’t making use of it. But what do we mean when we talk about the electricity grid…
How much can we burn? That depends on the future we want. Aaron Muderick

Setting a carbon budget to keep below two degrees

We have already committed the planet to a certain amount of warming due to past carbon emissions. But efforts to reduce emissions now and over the next few decades will critically affect the degree of…
We should be talking about future bushfires. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Fire and climate change: fire risk needs to be managed

Recent fires in New South Wales highlight our current vulnerability, remind us about potential future risks and prompt us to think more strategically about risk management. Some key questions have come…
NASA has built up a strong network of science enthusiasts who can step in when the agency shuts down. NASA HQ PHOTO

How Twitter fans kept NASA alive during the US shutdown

Now that the US government is back in business, all “non-essential” services will resume. For 15 days we went without NASA’s full operation, US Antarctic research and federally-funded clinical studies…
Six-legged hexapod robots can navigate rugged terrain and access places human workers cannot. CSIRO

Beyond R2-D2: Australian manufacturing’s robotics wish-list

In 1977, George Lucas’ Star Wars introduced us to R2-D2, an intelligent bot that embodied modern assistive robotics: he could anticipate needs and perform a number of tasks with minimal instruction. Almost…
New research shows supermassive black holes are bigger than the sum of their parts. NASA/CXC/A.Hobart

When galaxies collide: the growth of supermassive black holes

Galaxies may look pretty and delicate, with their swirls of stars of many colours - but don’t be fooled. At the heart of every galaxy lies a supermassive black hole, including in our own Milky Way. Black…

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